5 Actions to Take When You Can’t Believe Who Your Kids Are Hanging Out With!

It’s tough as a parent when our kids choose to hang out with what we might refer to as “unsavory” characters.  Whether it is the need to feel included or a desire to test the waters of independence, most kids are more likely than not to choose friends that are not necessarily a good influence on them at some point in their teen years.  I’ll admit there have been times I’ve not wanted my kids to hang out with other “church kids” for fear that the behaviors I saw would influence my teen’s character.  After all, research says that you become the average of the five people with whom you hang out.

Oh my, what a scary thought!

So how do we handle these situations?  Do we lay down the law or move heaven and earth to keep them away from each other?

And, of course, the answer depends on your particular situation. 

I’ve known parents who were in such dire situations with their kid that they chose to move the entire family in order to push the reset button hoping for a new start.  By all means, if this is your circumstance, I would encourage you to seek wisdom and counsel from professionals as you move forward to save your teen.  As you make this difficult decision, know that it will have a huge effect on all of you as a family.  I would know.  We made that decision at one point in our teen’s life.

But what about the other times when  fear creeps in?  How do we interact with our child knowing he is not hanging out with kids who are embracing the same character qualities we want to see in our teen?

  1. Resist the urge to always say “no” even though everything in your brain is seeing danger.  Our kids are wired to push back as they enter the tween  and teen years.  The last thing we want to do is set our relationship up to be antagonistic.
  2. Be welcoming.  When your kid wants to “hang out” with the friend, create a warm inviting atmosphere in your own home where the kids can hang out.  Encourage them to meet on “your turf” and provide opportunities for you to drop in on them.  Not many kids can resist warm cookies or a mug of hot chocolate.  This is your opportunity to share the love of Christ.
  3. Have positive conversations with your teen about their friend.  I know this seems difficult to do when you are so opposed to their choice, but hang with me here.  Ask questions and listen.  
    1. Why is this friendship so important to your child?  
    2. What is it about this person that your teen really likes?
    3. Let your child see that you agree with their analysis of their friend wherever possible.
    4. Then, as situations randomly arise, continue to ask questions.  What do you think (friend) would think/react in this situation?
    5. Share stories about your friendships and what you’ve learned over the years.
  4. Once you’ve created safety over time with your teen, begin to offer a comparison to their friend’s values versus your family values in a non-threatening way.
  5. Encourage your child to broaden their friendships to include kids with similar family values.

One of my kids always liked to push the envelope by hanging with people who were  directly opposite to our family’s value system.  I’ve found myself squeezed to the point of learning to love like Jesus loved even though it didn’t come naturally and it took everything in my power to choose that path to have a relationship with my child.

Sometimes as parents we need to be the role model for our kids to show them that Jesus hung out with sinners with purpose and intent.  Because of my teen’s choices I’ve been forced to love people who have chosen transgender lifestyles, homosexuality, a life of theft, and drug addiction.  These people have been in my home.  Sometimes, by the grace of God, they’ve joined our family at church.  We’ve been able to have spiritual discussions. Know that it was when I felt backed into a corner and knew that God wanted me to show love to my child by accepting her friends, that He began to weave a story that I had to release to Him.   

Mark 2:17

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Kids need to be able to figure out on their own how to develop true, meaningful friendships.  And it is much better if they can learn from us while they are under our roof where we can coach them through the process.  Parenting out of fear in these situations can easily drive our kids toward the very people we so desperately want to shield them from.

Dare you to encourage your kids to have healthy relationships that make them better people like Proverbs 27:17 friendship and engage with those of questionable character with purpose and intent of showing them the love of Christ.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Double Dare you to enter the fight for your kid’s life choices in a way that deflates their defensiveness and woos them to good choices.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Navigating our kids’ friendships can be a scary thing.  Our actions as a mom in these fearful moments of parenting can build walls that are difficult to tear down.  That’s why we’ve created our Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat.  Let us help you reinforce the relationship before the walls go up, or if you are already there, we can help you rebuild the relationship in a way that will help tear the walls down.  If you feel that you are losing your tween, teen, or 20-something, this course if for you!  Conflict abounds as you parent and we can help you navigate it in a way that actually builds a stronger relationship.

If this is you, we hope you will join us May 30-June 3, 2018 near Cincinnati, Ohio.  Join other women who want to learn the skills to create stronger relationships with their kids, their husbands, and other people.  Pricing includes:  4 nights in a private room in a beautiful retreat setting, 10 meals, and interactive training with professional trainers who love the Lord and what to help women grow in their relationship with God and others.  Not only will you have opportunity to learn and practice new skills in an encouraging environment, but you’ll have an opportunity for private reflection as you develop an action plan to help you get started.  



A Thief?!?!

Jolted from my silence by the interruption of the telephone, I heard Linda’s voice on the other end. “Debbie, please walk me through this. I’m scared! Jeremy is in trouble. I don’t know what to do! Can you come over right away and walk me through this? Hurry, the police are expecting me.”

Without thinking twice, I ran across the street to console my friend. “Linda, how can I help?”

“Just help me think! I’ve never dealt with anything like this! The police just called to tell me that Jeremy is being held in security. He was caught stealing something! They want me to come right away. How can this be? Not, Jeremy!”

As tears streamed down her face, I reached for her hands to help keep her from shaking. Quietly, I encouraged her to sit down a few minutes. “Linda, tell me everything you know.”

092012_1457_AThief1.jpg“That’s it. Just that they say they are holding Jeremy down at the shopping center for stealing!”

“Is this something you would ever have expected from Jeremy?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Why not?” I responded.

“Of all my kids, Jeremy is the last one I would expect. He’s doing great in school, almost all A’s, and I really like his friends. It just doesn’t make any sense. He’s got money in the bank from working last summer. Why would he need to steel something?”

“Has anything been different lately?”

“No, I don’t think so.” She mumbled. “What would he possibly want to steal? Oh my… he is getting pretty serious with his girlfriend. Surely he wouldn’t be stealing…you know, something he might be too embarrassed to buy!”

As Linda’s mind started heading toward all those unthinkable possibilities of what Jeremy might have stolen and how embarrassed she might be when she got to the store, I gave her a hug and offered up a quick prayer.

“Linda, look at me. When my mind starts taking me to places I know I shouldn’t go, I try to remember a scripture verse. The one from Philippians 4:8 is a good one. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

” The truth here,”  I continued, ” is that Jeremy is a good kid! Now it is up to you to be a strong mom for him. You can’t go in there crying or getting angry. This isn’t about you, it is about him. He’s a good kid who has done a stupid thing. We’ve all done stupid stuff in our lives; just focus on what you know to be true. Jeremy is a great kid and you are a strong mom! You can do this. Go be there for your son!”

As she drove down the street, I knew I’d be on my knees in her behalf during the next hour.

Later that evening Linda dropped by with a smile on her face, “Debbie, you were right. Jeremy is a good kid who did a stupid thing.”

As she shared the details of the afternoon with the police and Jeremy, she seemed content with how the experience had turned out. “You wouldn’t have believed it. As we were leaving, the police officer looked at me and told me what a great son I had. Luckily, he doesn’t have to go to court, but he will have to pay a fine. Jeremy managed to redeem himself with the officer even after he did such a stupid thing. I felt sorry for him. I could tell he was really scared…and repentant. I’m glad I was there for him.”

“Linda, how did you respond to Jeremy when you got there?”

“It had to have been God! I just went in and calmly asked what happened. Even when Jeremy and I were walking to the car, I just kept silent. I let him talk.”

“Wow! What restraint you must have exhibited!”

“The crazy thing about the whole thing is that he actually took something he had sold in a yard sale last summer.”

“What? I don’t get it.”

“Seems his girlfriend’s little brother was into the same card game Jeremy used to be into when he was that age. Jeremy was wishing he still had his collection to give to him. Said he was having a hard time paying for something he had just given away. Jeremy remembered opening the box in the store but the rest is a little fuzzy. When the security guard followed him into the parking lot, it was like a light bulb went off in his head and he realized what he had done. He immediately turned around and handed the merchandise over to security. I can’t believe he did something stupid for all the right reasons.”

“Oh, Linda, you’ve raised a good kid. It was one of those brain-freeze moments.”

“I know how you’ve told me that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until between the ages of 24 and 27.” she laughed. “I think I just experienced that today!”

BOTTOM LINE: Even when our tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings do the unthinkable, we need to remember that their brains are still maturing. They need us to stay calm and be the adult in their life, walking beside them no matter how difficult the situation.

Dare You to not respond with anger or tears next time you find your child has made some unbelievable mistake.

Double Dare You to listen in silence as your kid tells you why they made a stupid choice.

Learning to laugh on the journey!

“Let go and let God…”